The Harm in Asking: My Clumsy Encounters with the Human Race by Sara Barron
My rating: 4/5 cats
oh, sara barron, you do make me laugh.
what pleases me so much about her style of humor is that it feels natural. it doesn’t feel like she is trying very hard to be clever or that she is in any way self-satisfied. and that’s not to say that she isn’t clever, but she has that natural propensity, so important to good humor writing, to just let loose and not give a shit about what she looks like while doing it. this is incredibly ironic considering how frequently in this book she talks about feeling exposed and under scrutiny, how much she craves attention, and how if she is the person walked in on in a public restroom, she is the one who apologizes. but this timidity and desire for love and attention doesn’t stop her from admitting all the embarrassing things she is thinking, and all the ways in which she has come up short, socially, in her life. in fact, the chapter entitled The Boogie Rhythm serves as a perfect illustration of this ability to let loose.
sara barron is a farter.
I have always been a problematic farter. My need to fart is constant, and has given me the lifelong sense that I live on borrowed time. How long until I fart again? How long till that next bomb goes off? It’s a sense of impending doom, and it’s with me every second that I’m not alone.
her constant, potent farting is mirrored in her humor-delivery. sorry, first date, friends, family—this is me and this is what my body does. sorry, readers—this is all of me.
and as she elucidates:
There are two schools of thought when it comes to flatulence.
“Farts are funny,” says the first, propagating the belief that although farts are gross and immature, they are nonetheless amusing.
“Farts are awful,” says the second. “They’re the easy and pathetic jokes of those with nothing else to say.”
It wouldn’t stand me in good stead to pretend I don’t lock horns daily with issues of originality, with the issue of being disgusting. I acknowledge those components. It’s just, I still think farts are funny.
and so do i. and as an extension of that, i also appreciate someone who lets it all hang out, for our giggling pleasure.
this is a collection of confessional essays about her social awkwardness, her “dorkiness,” the imaginary friends she created to fawn over her when she was little (but only while on the toilet, post-shit) to her imaginary dog as an adult, her childhood habit of mounting objects and humping them, her undying love of jewel and tori amos, her unfortunate dalliances with drugs and alcohol, her sexual mishaps, and her misguided attempt at getting a tattoo.
I considered the Chinese symbol for “Alone,” as well as the Palestinian flag. However, nothing so eccentric seemed to suit me. So I tried thinking in terms of something more basic. Something more steeped in tradition.
That is when the answer finally came.
When it hit me, I knew instinctively that it was right.
My tattoo would be…a butterfly. But not just any butterfly.
My butterfly would sit…atop…a heart.
It was pretty strange, actually, that I hadn’t thought of it before. Because, well, a butterfly atop a heart communicated the very essence of what I myself was trying to project: sweet, sexy, daring. I thought, Tattoos say “sexy.” Butterflies and hearts say “sweet.” Therefore, a butterfly atop a heart says that I am super-sexy. And also that I’m sweet!
the entire chapter How Long Till My Soul Gets It Right? is one of my favorite things ever written down. i was hoping it would be online somewhere as an excerpt from the book, but as of this moment, it is not. so i guess it is one of those times when i am going to have to get all levar burton on you and say “but don’t take my word for it—read the book!”
moar laffs, please…
okay, so what i have learned (so far) from this book is that me and sara barron were at nyu AT THE SAME TIME!!
what the hell? i could have been the one squiring her to parties (and they would be a damn sight better than an nyu sorority party, that’s for sure). i would gladly have assisted her in her quest to find out if she was a lesbian! i would definitely have talked her out of that terrible tattoo idea before she realized it herself, nearly too late. i would have laughed with her about farts. i would have sang along to tori amos with her.
so many missed opportunities, sara barron! for us both!
AND!! we may have been living in park slope at the same time, too!! this is unacceptable!